All in with training: The weight room is mandatory for WHS athletes, and progress is impressive
In the past, weight training was an option at Worthington High School. Not any more. It’s mandatory for student-athletes in every sport. And Brad Grimmius, the former head football coach at WHS, says results have been remarkable.
WORTHINGTON -- The weight room at Worthington High School is busy every day.
Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Brad Grimmius takes attendance after school and informs coaches who is showing up and who isn’t. If you’re a student who misses your training session -- even if it’s because of illness -- don’t worry. You’ll make it up later.
In the past, weight training was an option. Not any more. It’s mandatory for student-athletes in every sport. And Grimmius, the former head football coach at WHS, says results have been remarkable.
“For a high percentage of them, they love it. If they see the results physically or in the mirror, they are totally all in. That’s how you get them hooked on it,” he said.
In years past, football players and wrestlers seemed to be more interested in weight training than practitioners in other sports. But since August of 2019, Worthington High athletic director Josh Dale has insisted that all athletes learn the weight room’s benefits. Now, Coach Joni Reitmeier’s girl gymnasts swear by the program. Tennis players do, too.
Prior to the mandate, Grimmius said, athletes tended to lift in the offseason and back off in-season. But the new plan, he explained, is to “bridge the gap” to help lifters retain what they’d accomplished outside of the season schedule.
Every team gets its in-season weight training time twice weekly. Many of them come in more than twice a week. Even some kids who haven’t lifted before are getting into the habit.
No, it’s not just for football players. The training regimen is comprehensive, a unified system that benefits the whole body and the psyche, too.
“Do you want to hit the ball harder in tennis? Do you want to kick the ball farther in soccer? It provides better balance and better coordination. Every sport, you need balance, you need strength, and you need confidence,” Grimmius said.
In the Metro area, high schools have mandated weight training regimens for years, some of them for 20 years or more. Other schools had devised specific programs for specific sports, but it wasn’t for everyone. The Worthington program is designed to benefit every athlete, regardless of sport.
Grimmius calls it a “unified” program.
It’s the same system across all sports. It teaches fundamental movement patterns. It builds a fundamental training base. It improves sports performance in the areas of strength, coordination, balance and confidence. It involves injury reduction and enhances recovery time.
It also brings all the Worthington High School coaches, along with the athletic director, into a more cohesive unit of leadership.
Prior to the program, Grimmius taught a total fitness class at the high school.
“The big thing was, they were seeing results with the data I showed them,” he recalled.
Dale questioned Grimmius about the program. Head football coach Geno Lais saw the results with his players and promoted the idea of making it available to a wider range of athletes.
Now, every athlete enrolled has his or her own program with personal documentation. For an athlete to know the training is working they don’t have to just look in the mirror; their improvements are authenticated on paper and constantly monitored.
Grimmius gives the AD his due.
Without Josh Dale’s support, this goes nowhere,” Grimmius said. “To have all programs to be required to do it, it takes leadership.”
The program is popular enough now that the athletes, themselves, hold each other accountable. Grimmius tells the story of one hockey player who was dogging it in the weight room but was challenged by a teammate. The harder-working player ordered the slacker to work harder, saying he wants to win more games and it takes a whole team to do it.
But don’t worry, kids: Grimmius will keep an eye on you, too.
“They know for a fact,” he said, “that I’m going to push them socially, mentally and physically.”